What are the benefits of taking vitamin D3 for Seasonal Depression?
As with many mental health issues, there are a number of factors that can trigger or worsen one’s symptoms. In regards to seasonal depression or SAD, not getting enough vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin, may be a major contributor. A 2018 meta-analysis found a correlation between low levels of vitamin D and depression. Similarly, people with Alzheimer's are often vitamin D deficient. Vitamin D is synthesized when our skin is exposed to sunlight. Unfortunately, since many people in the Northern hemisphere have limited sun exposure, it's easier to become vitamin D deficient. In fact, it's estimated that about 1 billion people globally are vitamin D deficient.
Unfortunately, eating a well-balanced healthy diet likely won't provide optimal levels of vitamin D for you. Dietary sources of vitamin D are slim but include fatty fish like salmon, fish liver oils, egg yolks, and milk and cereals that have been enriched with vitamin D. Alternatively since vitamin D can be created from light exposure, light therapy may be an effective treatment. This entails sitting in front of a bright light box for 20-60 minutes to emulate sun exposure while indoors. Light therapy is “thought to affect brain chemicals linked to mood and sleep, easing SAD symptoms,” according to the Mayo Clinic. However, some of the side effects of light therapy may include headache, dizziness, or nausea. This treatment is also more time-intensive than other options such as vitamin D supplementation. Vitamin D supplements come in easy-to-swallow pill forms and make it easy to achieve the recommended daily allowance with your morning breakfast. The RDA of vitamin D is:
- Age 0-12 months: 10 mcg
- Age 14-70 years: 15 mcg
- Ages 70 and up: 20 mcg
However, some studies suggest that a higher daily intake of 1,000–4,000 IU (25–100 micrograms) is needed to maintain optimal blood levels. It’s always a good idea to talk with your health care provider about adding a new supplement to your diet, especially if you take medicine. You can read our blog bout the benefits of taking Vitamin K2 and D3 together.